Foundation Pays Off Mortgage For Family Of Fallen Long Island Firefighter

INWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The family of a fallen firefighter has received a special holiday gift.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation has come to the rescue of the family of Joseph Sanford Jr.

The 43-year-old Inwood volunteer firefighter died on Dec. 23, 2014, four days after suffering injuries while battling a house fire in Woodmere. The 17-year veteran fell through a hole in the floor after the fire burned up through the basement.

On the first anniversary of his death, the foundation announced that it has paid off the family’s home mortgage.

“We live in the greatest country because of men like Joseph Sanford and they’re willing to put it all on the line for America,” said Frank Siller, who started the foundation in honor of his brother, fallen 9/11 firefighter Stephen Siller.

Sanford’s widow, Jacqueline, accepted the check Tuesday and said she’s grateful.

“This is a huge burden that has been lifted off of us,” she said. “And to know that our family has a home forever, thank you.”

Siller said this is just family helping family.

The foundation also has paid off the mortgages and are paying for renovations on the homes for the families of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down in their squad car in Brooklyn in December.

The organization also builds “smart homes” for severely injured service members.

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